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Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: Pho Is Most Famous Vietnamese Soup

By Anna Huong Nguyen, Gulf Coast

This article first appeared in the October/November issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine.

Pho (pronounced "fuh") is the comfort food of Vietnamese cuisine and has gained its popularity more recently among all cultures. I am fortunate enough to grow up on Pho; it was a comfort food in my family. We came to the United States in 1980. We were sponsored first in Memphis, then moved to Maine, where my dad found factory work for most of our childhood lives. We moved to the coast in 1999 and here we remain.

Pho is a labor of love that consists of a quick boil, then a long simmer to bring out all the flavors of the bones and spices. A bowl of Pho is made up of rice noodles, meats, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and the broth. The broth is what knits the soup together.

Vietnamese Pho

Vietnamese Pho

Ingredients for the broth:

  • beef bones and bone marrow

  • charred onion

  • charred ginger

  • Pho spices packet (Pho spice packages can be bought online or at any Asian market)

  • rock sugar

  • salt

  • fish sauce

For the bowl:

  • rice noodles

  • Thai basil

  • bean sprouts

  • cilantro

  • beef eye round (thinly sliced)

  • thin sliced raw onion

  • hoisin sauce (to taste)

  • sriracha sauce (to taste)

  • lime


  1. Remove impurities from beef bones and marrow with a 5-minute boil – this quick boil is the path to a beautiful clear soup – then wash the bones to remove the residue.

  2. Fill a large pot with water and add cleaned bones, beef, water, charred onion, charred ginger and spices (cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, star anise). Simmer for 3 hours.

  3. Season broth with a couple cubes of rock sugar, a couple teaspoons of salt, and couple Tablespoons of fish sauce.

  4. Prepare the bowl with rice noodles, thinly sliced eye round, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and sliced raw onion.

  5. Pour boiling Pho broth over and season with the desired amount of hoisin and sriracha sauces. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

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